A Million Dollars donated to fight Locust Devastation in East Africa

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The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) on Friday said it had donated a million dollars towards fighting a severe desert locust infestation that threatens food security in East Africa.

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“We have a window of opportunity before the next planting season. We must act now,’’ said Maria Helena Semedo of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA), to which the funds were donated.

“Flexible funding, like that of the ASTF, helps us move fast,’’ she added, speaking on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The FOA has said it would need 73 million dollars to combat the rapid spread of the pest that could lead to famine in a region already struggling with food insecurity.

Officials have stated that the outbreak, the worst in 25 years, has affected Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Eritrea and Sudan and threatens to spread to Uganda and South Sudan.

According to the FOA, locust infestations continue to increase in size along both sides of the Red Sea and move into adjacent areas.

Currently Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iran have also been affected.

Pakistan has declared a national emergency over the flying insects.

The desert locust is among the most dangerous migratory pests in the world.

A square-kilometre swarm can consume the equivalent of food for 35,000 people in one day, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned.

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